Four years ago, I started going out each morning to collect my handful of raspberries while they were in season. (I looked forward to having them on my cereal in the morning).

I had a small berry patch behind the house where we were living, but I noticed that the undergrowth, poison ivy, and clinging vines were starting to get a little out of hand, but at least for the moment, the bushes were still producing.

The following year it got entirely out of hand. The poison ivy was everywhere! I had to wear my barn boots to get to some of the berries.

And the clinging vines were literally wrapped around and choking the plants. Needless to say, we got almost nothing from that year’s “crop.”

So the following year, I went in and completely cleared out all the vines and raked out the whole area.

I ripped out poison ivy with a vengeance! I studied up on growing raspberries. I pruned, fertilized, and transplanted until everything was in good order.

Then I waited.

Jesus is my favorite teacher.

When he told the parable of the sower, it almost seemed like he had been walking through my berry patch!

Jesus said: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:3‭-‬9 RSV

Before I did all the work, I had rocky soil, shallow soil, and vine choked soil, and, incredibly, nothing grew!

The lesson is so evident when Jesus teaches it. If you are dying or anemic and weak spiritually, you have no further to look than what you have been doing… or NOT doing to build up your spiritual soil.

And it’s all the same old problems that everyone has.

All you have to do is put spiritual things at the bottom of your priority list, and Satan will come and steal what little you have. Let worldly cares and worldliness creep in, and they will choke you out in no time!

Just don’t bother with prayer or Bible study, and soon, your spiritual soil will be so thin that you will get scorched with the very first struggle you encounter.

But now is the time!

Clear out the weeds of worldliness, build yourself up with prayer and study, make the Lord your priority, and find yourself spiritually fruitful again.

And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.”
Mark 4:11‭-‬12 RSV
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